COLUMBIA, S.C. — Customers who ate at Hardee’s at 451 Killian Road in Columbia between June 4 and June 20, 2019 might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. 

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) was notified on June 21, 2019, that an employee of the restaurant tested positive for hepatitis A. 

DHEC is working with Hardee’s to investigate possible exposures and provide guidance for preventive treatment for anyone who may be affected.

The concern is not the restaurant but is with a food handler who has hepatitis A infection, and they can spread the virus up to two weeks before they know they are sick. The risk of the hepatitis A virus spreading from an infected employee to customers in a restaurant setting is low. 

This illness is not a food-borne outbreak. Hepatitis A is a short-term viral infection causing inflammation of the liver. Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. Symptoms include fever, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine and yellow skin (jaundice).   

Post-exposure vaccination should be considered for individuals who have not been vaccinated if it can be given within two weeks from their date of consuming anything from the restaurant. People who ate food prepared at the restaurant between June 10 and June 20, 2019, may contact their medical provider or pharmacy about post-exposure treatment. In South Carolina, adults 18 years and older can get vaccinated at some local pharmacies without a prescription, depending on your insurance coverage.

Restaurant patrons who were potentially exposed also can visit the Richland County Health Department, 2000 Hampton St., Columbia, from Noon to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (June 25), 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Wednesday (June 26) and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Wednesday (June 27). No appointment is necessary.

The vaccine is not shown to prevent infection when administered more than 14 days after a specific exposure. However, vaccination more than 14 days after exposure will give long-lasting protection from infection from future exposures. 

The restaurant received an A rating from DHEC at the last inspection conducted on May 13, 2019. The restaurant has complied with DHEC recommendations for cleaning and vaccination of employees. 

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